In winter I really like soup for dinner. Last night was particularly hideous (wind, rain, lightening) and a bowl of homemade liquid goodness was just what the doctor ordered. Besides which, after a weekend of eating and drinking in a less than ideal fashion, soup is a great way to pack in all the vegetables and nutrients our bodies were craving.
Last night was a minestrone. I make mine with homemade stock (more on that later), beans but not pasta and as many vegetables and herbs as I can squeeze in. I’m generous with the bacon, which keeps the 11 year old boy happy.
Time wise, it’s not bad either. I started cooking at about 6pm and dinner was on the table just after 7. Bearing in mind that I had to convince said 11 year old into then out of the shower which slowed me down somewhat. This fed my family of four comfortably and it looks like I have enough left for lunch for the next few days.
So to the recipe. There are many versions of minestrone, this is mine. I’ve added some extra notes down the bottom if you need them.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 x rasher streaky bacon, chopped
1 x red onion chopped
2 x medium carrots, diced
2 x sticks celery diced
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
1 litre chicken stock
2 x 400g tins cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
150g kale or silverbeet, middle rib removed, chopped
Parmesan cheese rind (about 20g)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt/Freshly ground black pepper
Handful basil leaves, torn
Extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare all your vegetables, bacon and herbs before starting to cook
- Cook bacon in olive oil until brown and crisp over medium heat
- Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sweat over low heat until soft
- Add chilli flakes, oregano and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant
- Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, cook 30 min
- Add beans, kale and parmesan cheese rind. Cook 30 minutes more (add more stock if too thick)
- Add balsamic vinegar. Cook 5 minutes
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Stir through basil leaves.
- Ladle into bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil
- Free range bacon please! I found a very smoky brand which added a great flavour to the soup
- Although I’ve recommended kale, you can really use any leafy greens you have available. Spinach, cavolo nero, silverbeet are also good
- You can change out the oregano for chopped fresh rosemary and bump up and decrease the chilli, depending on your desired heat levels
- The parmesan cheese rind is the hard bit after you’ve grated all the good stuff. I also tend to forget to wrap parmesan properly and most of the block goes hard. Once this has happened, it’s perfect to use to add flavour to minestrone, or any other soup for that matter. Just throw it in the pot with everything else and wait for the melty cheese to do it’s magic.